Blizzard warning issued for Hawaii’s highest mountains

Snow has been accumulating on Mauna Kea’s summit since late November. The mountain’s access road has been closed off to visitors due to a blizzard warning until Sunday, December 5. (Photo courtesy Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

by Alfred Acenas (EBC Hawaii-Pacific)
Eagle News Service

HONOLULU (Eagle News) – The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a blizzard warning for Hawaii’s Big Island summits at Mauna Kea (13,803 feet or 4,207 meters) and Mauna Loa (13,681 feet or 4,170 meters).

The said warning will remain in effect until 6:00am Hawaii time on Sunday, December 5 (12:00am Philippine time, December 6).

Under blizzard conditions, travelers to the peaks can expect snow accumulations upwards to 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) or even more, along with wind gusts over 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour) and near-freezing temperatures of 33.08 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 Celsius below zero).

Travel on the access roads could range between very difficult to impossible. Blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility at times, with periods of zero visibility.

According to Maunakea Rangers from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the road to Mauna Kea’s summit has been closed to the public due to fog, high humidity, and icy conditions. They remind everyone that travel should be restricted for emergencies only. For those who have to travel, they must have a winter survival kit and remain inside the vehicle if stranded.

This latest weather advisory is the result of a very large cold front coming from the northwest of the Hawaiian islands that has already triggered dangerous high-surf conditions of up to 30 feet (9 meters) for the northern shores in the islands Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, and Maui.

Hawaii Lieutenant Governor (Dr.) Josh Green, himself a Big Island native, has acknowledged on social media the presence of the huge storm system; and has reminded everyone to continue to remain safe and vigilant this weekend.

(Eagle News Service)